To Austin With Love
I met a boy.
I held the gun up to the side of my head and took a look at myself in the mirror. It felt awkward in my hand - it was a lot heavier than I had expected it to be and I was struggling to hold it steady. Or maybe I was trembling. Either way, the heaviness was a good thing. It was the weight of the choice I had to make, and it certainly felt like the power of life and death was in my hand.
Because I am a gay rights activist, and because I am gay, people often assume I am an atheist. If I am arguing with a Christian over gay rights, they will oftentimes casually refer to me as a “non-believer” before it is ever established what I do or do not believe. And I don’t usually bother to correct them either.
My original intent for this article was to write a thoughtful analysis of the craziness that was Chick-Fil-A appreciation day. But nope. You will get none of that from me. Because I am frustrated, very frustrated, with how this all went down.
I think that, too often, people think of happiness as some kind of goal. That it’s something that you can acquire or “earn” if you accomplish a certain thing.
Oh, I’ll be happy when I lose some weight and get that hot body that I’ve always wanted. Then I will be sexy and all my problems will melt away before the raw power of my sexiness because hot and stuff.
I think I’ll be happy once I can prove that I’m not a failure. When I get a successful job, buy a decent house, and set up a good life for myself, then I’ll have time buy a La-Z-Boy recliner and bask in the happy.
But maybe it’s…
No. I’m just not made to ever be happy. I’m sad and I’m cynical and you don’t “get” me okay how about you leave me alone you don’t understand the hell that is my brain dude like if you spent 20 minutes in this shit you’d be like fwj4ijg;ldfkjflk so get out of my face alright like fuck.
That last one was me, by the way.
I’ve arrived at the conclusion, however, that happiness is not some destination that you have to travel over many deserts and hardships to attain. It is not a carrot dangling at the end of a stick that is meant to motivate you to keep moving forward. It is also not something that you should be actively keeping away from yourself because you feel like you don’t deserve it.
I think happiness is something you embrace. Right here. Right now.
And all you have to do is let yourself.
None of this “I’ll be happy after I lose ten pounds” or this “I’ll be happy after I get that promotion” business. Come on now, you’re much too intelligent and sexy for all of that. Aren’t you? The answer is yes. Please get with the program.
Now I don’t know what bad stuff may have happened to you before. Maybe you’ve had it way worse than me. I know I’ve had it way worse than a lot of other people. But all of that is irrelevant, my friend. The point is that you need to let it go. Because if you’re still hanging on to what someone else may have done to you, or what you may have done to yourself, then you’re not giving your life the respect it deserves.
Because “you” is a phenomenon that will never happen again. Really. There’s a billion billion billion things that conspired to make you happen, you know. The universe had to come about somehow, then the Earth, then the dinosaurs had to die, then your primitive ancestors had to not get killed by a saber-toothed tiger, then your great great great grandparents had to not get hit by some plague, etcetera, etcetera, until we finally arrive at you. And even within you, there is all kinds of shit happening that makes you think and feel and love and dream and… you get the picture.
My point is that, by some miracle, you are here. And that is all the reason in the world for you to be happy. And I just hope that after reading this you put a smile on your face, even if you don’t really feel like it…
Because that person in the future who is ten pounds lighter and has a better job and has all their shit figured out isn’t you right now. And, honestly, right now is the only guarantee you have in life. The real you, the one with all the flaws and misgivings and goals and hopes and nightmares and sadness and laughter, is the only you you have.
And you are enough.
American Evangelical Christians are a lot less like the apostles of Jesus, and a lot more like the guys who nailed him to a cross.
Now, I may be an agnostic homosexual (read: heathen sodomite), but I did go to Catholic school for what seems like forever. And I am from Oklahoma. And, yes, I have read the Bible. So when it comes to Jesus…. sure, I know the guy.
And you know what? He seems pretty cool. I like him. Why? Because, to me, Jesus was the kind of person who stuck up for the little guy. According to the Bible he was big on healing the sick and helping the poor. What’s there not to like about that?
Another thing I like is that he was willing to go against the status quo. He rolled with a posse of smelly homeless dudes and a prostitute. He had his own ancient Breakfast Club! He also preached against the evils of greed and violence. I mean, he was a real rebel! So much so that the Roman Empire, the biggest upholder of the status quo at the time, labeled him a threat.
Sure, Jesus has been painted in several different lights to fit several different religious and political ideologies. I get that. But from everything I’ve read, I think it’s safe to say that Jesus was at least a real mover and shaker. For me, he’s right up there with the other “radicals” like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Because, well, Jesus was a man who was interested in changing things.
Hmm… changing things. Let’s keep that in mind as we flash-forward to his modern day fan club.
Who is the church of Jesus today? Well, that’s difficult to say. There really are all kinds of Christians out there. There are Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals, Christian hipsters who frequent coffee shops… But you know what’s easier to answer? Who is the LOUDEST church of Jesus today? That’s easy, we say in unison - the Evangelicals.
And who are the Evangelicals? They’re the ones on your TV screen asking for money, first of all. Many of them are also fundamentalists. But beyond that, they are a large Christian group with a lot of power in American politics.
And what are their politics? We call it social conservatism: the idea that morality can be and should be regulated by the government. AKA the “small government” Republicans trying to regulate your bedroom activities.
This group often cites Jesus as the spiritual guide for their beliefs. In this way, they can justify being against certain things.
And, let me tell you, in the history of American Evangelicalism and Christian fundamentalism… they have been against a lot of stuff.
Remember when the super-duper Christian South realized slavery was against the teachings of Jesus and immediately freed all their slaves? No? Oh. That’s probably because they were against the Emancipation Proclamation.
Remember the civil rights movement in the 60’s? When Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference sought out “the promised land” and equality in this country? Yeah. They were against that.
Remember when two people of different races could finally celebrate their love openly and get married? … They definitely weren’t for that.
How about when feminists said women deserve the right to vote? Well, Evangelical Christians were kind of hoping they would just stay in the kitchen. You know. Where “God” told them to be.
And what about today? What about gay people trying to get equality and respect in a world that has historically oppressed them?
Even the president came out and said he was for that! But not Evangelical Christians. No. See, they would kind of prefer it if gay people just died out.
And, FYI, they’re still pretty shitty about racial issues and women’s rights.
Have you noticed a pattern here? No? Maybe? I think you do, but I’ll spell it out for you just in case.
Evangelical Christians are very interested in keeping things the same.
No matter how bad it might be for someone else, they are interested in keeping the status quo.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold on now! What’s the deal?!
If Jesus was in the business of changing things… why is such a sizable chunk of mainstream Christianity trying to keep things the same?
If Jesus was all about the poor and downtrodden, then why are Evangelical Christians all about oppressing them?
If Jesus was against the status quo, then why have Evangelical Christians become guardians of the status quo?
But, then again, when have people ever been interested in actually following the teachings of some guy in a bathrobe preaching peace and love?
Between the times of Jesus of Nazareth and today, there has been so much bloodshed and acts of hatred carried out in the name of Christianity that it would make your head spin.
So, yeah… maybe this is nothing new. Still, I can’t help but think that if Jesus had been alive today instead of back then, and he was still trying to meddle and go about changing things, then his biggest enemies wouldn’t be agnostics or atheists. They would be Evangelical Christians.
Some community members in Lenoir City, Tennessee are asking for an investigation of high school yearbook adviser James Yoakley.
What is Mr. Yoakley’s crime? He allowed an article in the 2012 yearbook titled “It’s OKAY to be gay.”
The student-written article profiled Zac Mitchell, a gay student who discussed bullying and coming out and how his family donates to pro-gay causes and breast cancer research. I know. Heinous stuff, isn’t it?
After the article came out, an email started circulating amongst the ultra-religious members of the community. They had this to say:
“It is time to take a stand for our faith. We aren’t being called to risk our lives and go before a king like Nehemiah – but our walls are broken down and our gates are burning.”
Wow! Who would have known that a call for tolerance and acceptance would be taken as an act of war by these supposed “Christians?”
Van Shaver, a board member in a nearby district, even went so far as to say that Yoakley should be fired and arrested.
“Arrested for what?!” You may ask. Child sex abuse, of course.
Shaver said that if Yoakley had asked about the sexual orientation about any child, then that must make him a sex offender.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had just about enough of the ultra-religious right’s war on gay teens in this country. They’ve helped pass laws that make it easier for bullies to target LGBT students. They’ve claimed that gay rights are an affront to their religious freedoms. And now, after one brave high school student shared his story in the yearbook, they are trying to criminalize the yearbook adviser.
Enough is enough.
Now here’s what you can do to help stand with Mr. Yoakley and the article of acceptance he decided to publish.
Like the Facebook page - Take A Stand Against The Ignorance in Lenoir CIty
The people trying to get Mr. Yoakley fired also made a Facebook page called “Take A Stand Lenoir City,” and I encourage you to go there and RESPECTFULLY disagree with the way they are handling this incident.
These people are certainly not acting very Christ-like right about now.
LGBT students in high schools across our nation are under attack, and they need all the help and support we can give.